Sorry for the wait! I'm visiting family and friends on the east coast, and the internet connection is slow...as...fuck. So much so that I am sitting in a café with free, fast wireless right now, just so I don't tear out my hair trying to upload tracks and pics for you. Hope you've enjoyed the first two installments of 2009 boners, and that this installment is just as illuminating and hardening.
1. DJ Sprinkles Midtown 120 Blues (Mule)
Given that nearly every electronic music site has placed this record in its top five records of the year, if not the number one spot, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I'm giving it props as well. A treatise on house music, appropriation, and notions of gender and exclusion, Midtown 120 Blues is a timeless piece of electronic music that will outlive many of the other records released in the past year. And with the atmospherics, flowing bass-lines, lush synths, and piano elements displayed in the track below, I'm sure we can all agree on this record's 'classic' status.
DJ Sprinkles- House Music Is Controllable Desire You Can Own
2. Redshape The Dance Paradox (Delsin)
Redshape's analog opus is the sort of record that makes people say, "This is just so fucking good." And yeah, it is: perfect mixture of atmospherics, deep kicks, lush pads, squelchy moments, and bass-lines that are straight-up second-wave Detroit shit. A perfect record in every way, choosing between this and DJ Sprinkles was actually a rough decision to make... but I went with my politics, though my ear pulls me towards Redshape's sounds so much more. Seriously, check out the track below— the bass drops in so unexpectedly, and then when it does, it's like an aural epiphany. Fucking excellent.
3. Luke Hess Light in the Dark (Echocord)
A lot of reviewers didn't like this album, and I don't really blame them— it is a rather cold affair, but something about it has stuck with me since its release, and I've found myself getting really into its icy veneer. With a more jackin' style than Echocord contemporaries, Hess manages to produce dub-techno that isn't appropriate for naptime, instead being more apt to make an appearance on a 6 am dancefloor. "Son Beams" is certainly my favorite track on the record, with its expansive pans, high-frequency whooshes, and weird little vocal elements, as well as its echo-driven synth stabs. In fact, this track sort of reminds me of driving around Detroit on a cold, snowy day...kind of perfect, yeah?
Luke Hess- Son Beams
4. Alland Byallo Brick by Brick (Nightlight)
Alland Byallo is one of the West Coast's hidden secrets, a techno producer whose sophisticated dancefloor jams can compete with the best of what comes out of Europe, but whose profile has remained low despite his residency at San Francisco's [kontrol] parties and excellent releases. His first full-length finds him in top form, mixing deep techno vibes with some dubby textures, Detroit gestures, and nods to the weird tribal African house vibe that has been sweeping the Innervisions crew over the past few years. "Casual Sax," in some ways, is exemplary of this mixture of sounds, with blaring horns, astounding polyrhythmic percussion, and spacey squelch that would make Detroit denizens proud.
Alland Byallo- Casual Sax
5. Lawrence Until Then, Goodbye (Mule)
Taken from my review in XLR8R: Peter Kersten's output has never been filled with sunshine; in fact, one could argue that his oeuvre is downright melancholy, filled with minor-key melodies and sentimental chord progressions. For his latest full-length under his Lawrence moniker, Kersten continues the trend, delivering an album that is more cloudy Sunday than clubby Saturday. Tracks like "Grey Light" and "The Dream" channel Angelo Badalamenti, and "Todenhausen Blues" recalls European seaside towns awash in drizzle. There are beat-oriented moments, of course, like the hazy synth shuffle of "Jill" and the organic house stylings of "In Your Eyes," but overall, Until Then, Goodbye, is a gorgeous and moody trek through sonic textures that invoke intense emotions; if there was ever a perfect example of 'teardrop house,' Lawrence's latest would be it.
6. Moritz von Oswald Trio Vertical Ascent (Honest Jon's)
Moritz von Oswald, with the help of Sasu Ripatti and Max Loderbauer, has created a record that perfectly combines contemporary minimal classical, dub-techno, electronic ambient, and dancefloor efficacy. It is difficult to imagine anone else achieving such a feat, or achieving it to such pleasing effect.
Moritz von Oswald Trio- Pattern 1
7. White Rainbow New Clouds (Kranky)
Taken from my XLR8R review: Adam Forkner (a.k.a. White Rainbow) continues to astound on his second full-length for Kranky. The Portland resident's loop-based jams have always had a truly organic, 'free' feeling, but New Clouds emphasizes these tonal elements while simultaneously being the best-sounding record he has ever created. With synth washes and guitar lines whipping in and out amidst Forkner's soaring vocalizations and subtle percussive elements, the music floats in the ether—a track like the epic "All the Boogies in the World" recalls traditional Irish music, Brian Eno's ambient works, Enya, fuzzed-out garage punk, Underworld, and jazz-fusion percussive styles. There is no pinning White Rainbow down, as Forkner defies easy definition in favor of creating gorgeous aural structures that uniquely bend both time and genre.
From the first time I saw Forkner live, playing from the back of a truck on the site of a cement factory in the Hunter's Point section of San Francisco, I knew that his was a unique talent. Do pick up this record— it is gorgeous.
White Rainbow- All the Boogies in the World
8. Meanderthals Desire Lines (Smalltown Supersound)
Gorgeously balearic, slo-motion, hazy disco: only a combination of the Idjut Boys and Rune Lindbaek could craft such sounds without seeming like a bunch of oldsters. With just enough Scandinavian disco, Jan Hammer, and California acid-folk thrown into the mix, Desire Lines proved one of the most endearing records of the year, if only because it was probably the best to get blazed to while driving along a coastline. Just check "1-800-288-SLAM" below, and tell me that you don't wish you were on the PCH, digging this and watching the sun set.
9. port-royal dying in time (n5md)
From my XLR8R review: Though the album's starkly snowy cover might have something to do with it, Genoa's port-royal do evoke a crystalline, wintery quality on their third full-length. High-frequency washes, plaintive delayed guitars, and tinkling synths abound amidst rhythm structures that evoke Squarepusher and Aphex Twin. The icy sheen is spread over eleven tracks, so that the listening process feels a bit like a slalom ride down Mont Blanc, the apex coming towards the album's midpoint with the M83-like glassiness of "I Used To Be Sad." Other tracks, like "Susy: Blue East Fading," recall a louder Stars of the Lid, but with a nice shuffle behind the synth swells. if one can stand its brilliant cold without shivering, dying in time might be one of the most fulfilling records of the year.
This record really is unbelievable, and I highly recommend it for any fans of ambient music, Pantha Du Prince, and crystal-clear production.
port-royal- Susy: Blue East Fading
10. Black Jazz Consortium Structure (Soul People)
I've played this record for some people who have absolutely despised it, saying that it isn't jackin', isn't jazzy, isn't really much to write home about. Well, those people don't know what the fuck they're talking about, because this is old-school style shit à la Larry Heard, with jazzy undertones, and some moments of real synth bliss. Love this project, and can't wait for Fred P. to make more! (And yes, 'vogue' is spelled wrong on the CD, so I've left it unchanged).
Black Jazz Consortium- Watching You Vouge
11. Hieroglyphic Being So Much Noise 2 Be Heard (Mathematics)
Old school readers of the blog know how much I adore Jamal Moss and his Hieroglyphic Being project, and so when his latest double-LP came out, I bought it, and quickly wore it out. Keeping with his insanely rhythmic, noisy, acidy Detroit techno, So Much Noise 2 Be Heard is a pleasure to listen to. Peep the track below.
Hieroglyphic Being- Behind the Green Door
12. Italoboyz Bla Bla Bla (Mothership)
From my XLR8R review: Techno is often an over-serious genre, so listening to the first Italoboyz full-length is a breath of fresh air—the duo crafts rich, funky tracks that are full of humor, esoteric influences, and the London transplants' penchant for intense rhythmic play. A prime example is found on "Chinese," a piece that utilizes extensive bits of Chinese-influenced piano, cut-up vocal portions culled from Chinese language instruction software, and jazzy house percussion that shimmers in just the right spots. "Techno Tower," on the other hand, recalls a more playful Gaiser, but it is "Bahia," a hypnotic techno slice based entirely on licensed John Coltrane loops and deep kicks, that really stays with the listener.
13. Dam-Funk Toeachizown (Stones Throw)
The only reason Dam-Funk's boogie-funk opus is at the bottom of the list is because there are definitely some tracks on the four-volume collection that are better than others. That said, the collection might be one of the most fantastic achievements of 2009, finally bringing Dam-Funk into a well-deserved spotlight. Now roll up that blunt.
Dam-Funk- Boogie Slyde
Dig all of these tracks, and if you especially like something, seek it out and support the artists! Coming up tomorrow: some anarchist post-punk for you, from the Crass Records label!